Junior Varsity Softball, Varsity Softball · Medina Softball moving on to Regionals

Printed in the Medina Gazette on 5/24/13

Rick NolandJust as there’s no quit in the Medina softball team, there’s also no quiet. The Bees, it seems, always have something to cheer about — and they do it loudly.

“We love being around each other,” senior pinch-running specialist, reserve right fielder and unofficial cheerleading co-captain Megan Lawrence said Thursday. “We practice cheers on the bus, we cheer in the dugout and then we cheer on the bus again on the way home. We’re a very excitable team.”

The tradition started last year, when Medina reached the Division I state semifinals for the first time in school history, and hasn’t stopped since.

The memorized chants — there are about 15 and most are fast-paced — will be on display again when the Bees (22-7) play Austintown Fitch (20-7) in a University of Akron Regional semifinal Thursday at 5 p.m. at Lee Jackson Field.

The cheers are usually started by senior center fielder Lauren Peak, but Lawrence and fellow 12th-grader Jen Sansonette won’t hesitate to fill in if Peak is hitting or on base.
“Lauren Peak has the biggest mouth by far,” Lawrence said with a laugh. “When she cheers, she puts her whole body into it.”

The 5-foot-5, 128-pound Peak, a ground-eating center fielder and extremely effective slap hitter, is versatile on the field and in the dugout. She seemingly has a cheer ready for every occasion.

One of those excitable, on-the-go people who rarely stops moving and is always talking, Peak managed to sit still long enough to type out all Medina’s cheers for this story. She was so thorough it took her more than two hours and almost led to The Gazette sports department missing deadline.

“We’re all hyper,” Peak said. “We all like to have fun. We’re all bubbly people.”

Some are bubblier than others. Peak, who has frequently caught herself whispering cheers when she’s on base, often seems ready to burst.

“Lauren pretty much starts them, then we all go off that and build off each other,” Lawrence said. “We’re beyond excited.”

No matter how pumped they get, the Bees maintain their focus at the plate, in the field and, most important when it comes to the proper timing of cheers, in the dugout.

When a teammate hits a foul ball backward, they’ll quickly launch into the sing-song chant, “Olay, Olay, Olay, hit that ball, the other way! You got a piece of it, but we want all of it!”

When a Medina player steals a base, everyone in the dugout will quickly start doing their best high-pitched impression of a police car’s siren.

When the Bees score a run, those in the dugout chant, “Welcome back ridersssss. How was your ride?!”

Extremely careful not to be poor sports or rub anything in to an opponent, the closest the Bees come to trash-talking — and it’s not close at all — is when they impersonate a restaurant hostess and announce, “Ball, party of four, your base is now available.”

“It seems like it gets in the other team’s head sometimes, but it’s not intentional,” Peak said. “We just cheer to keep everyone up and keep our energy up. When we have fun, we play our best. It’s not for the other team, it’s for us.”

Occasionally, parents from the opposing team get annoyed simply because the Bees are so darn loud, but the Medina players are so good-natured and having so much fun a lot of people react in a positive manner.

When the Bees hosted Elyria earlier this season, a Pioneers fan who worked for a radio station came over and stood next to the Medina dugout so he could tape the cheers and play them on the air the next day.

“Someone just starts it and we all just go with it,” said Peak, who is usually that someone.

Third-year coach Jessica Toocheck, a 2004 Medina graduate not far removed from her playing days at the school, has no problem with the Bees having fun, largely because all the cheering keeps them loose but does not result in concentration lapses.

“She loves it,” Peak said. “She always says we do better when we’re up. If someone’s down, that’s the way to get them up. And you can’t be down yourself, because you’re cheering to pick up your teammate.”

Some of the chants used by the Bees — most are done when they are batting and the dugout is full — originated when the girls were playing together in youth leagues. Others have been added over the past two years.

Everyone participates, including the quieter players on the team, though there aren’t many wallflowers in this group.

“Before games, we all sit on the bus and make up cheers,” Peak said. “We all just come up with some stuff.

“When the game starts, we’re already hyped and intense, so we just blow out cheers randomly. We all like to go crazy.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.